Planning a trip to Ireland for a few days or even a week or two? I highly recommend taking an intensive and well-worth tour of Ireland with Paddywagon Tours. I personally recommend that it is the best (and often quickest) way to see as much as Ireland as possible in your travels.
My best friend from Canada visited her family in Ireland in the summer of 2012, and told me about the Aran Islands, and said it was a MUST SEE. She was absolutely right. It’s not part of a lot of tours in Ireland, so if you are traveling Ireland independently, make sure this is on your list to see. (Directions on how to get there will be explained below)
The Aran Islands constitute of three islands situated at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. The islands from west to east are named: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.
Inishmore is the largest island and the one I was told to visit. You will have to take a coach from Galway to the docks outside of Galway where you get a boat ride to the Aran Islands. There are travel companies in Galway that offer this coach+boat ride deal to the Aran Islands, so it should be no problem getting there. When I arrived to Inishmore, there only seemed to be one bus tour awaiting for tourists to arrive. Because I went during the winter time (extremely low season), there was only 3 tourists on the whole entire island. It was absolutely deserted and we had the whole island by ourselves to explore. It was so surreal and amazing.
In terms of getting around the Island, there are bikes for hire (great option during nice weather/summer time, but beware that it is extremely hilly and exhausting), as well as cheap bus tours. I took a bus tour of the Island with a local who spoke very interesting english, and fluent Irish. He even had a leprechaun dangling from his front mirror. He was full of knowledge and taught us about the island and its history.
The island is constructed of limestone, and by this, I mean there are hundreds and thousands of limestone walls around the fields. The island was entirely made of limestone and almost inhabitable, but with hard work and dedication from the Irish locals, they gathered great amounts of limestone and constructed unaccountable amount of walls around the entire island. It was miraculous to see in person. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.
On the tour, we were dropped off at Dun Aengus for about two hours to explore an ancient stone fort, with an amazing view of the coast, as well as shop and eat in the little village. The nature walk to the ancient stone fort was beautiful and relaxing. This ancient stone fort was my favourite site on the island, because of the spectacular view. Be careful along the edge of the cliff because there are extremely strong winds and no guard or rail to protect you from falling over the edge. This does offer some amazing photography opportunities however. If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the view from the edge of the cliff.
The island is completed isolated and you get that feel when you drive around the island. It almost feels like the inhabitants are still living in the 1930’s. Many of the houses on the Aran Islands are thatched homes, which are so interesting to see and learn about. Here is an image of one of the thatched homes.
Driving along the coast of the island was also amazing to do. The island is just as green as you would expect Ireland to be (besides the innumerable amount of stone
and walls). I spent the remainder of the day checking out all the little shops that offer homemade clothing by the local inhabitants, as well as the famous Aran sweaters.
I ended the day if a chill visit to one of the local pubs and, of course, a fresh pint of Guinness. The server even put a four-leaf clover on the top of my Guinness (as they often do this for tourists) and this made my day.
Overall, I had an amazing day on the Aran Islands, and it was something different to see. A place I had not expected, and still one of my favourite, and most relaxing places I’ve travelled too. If you do get a chance, it would be interesting to go during a high-peak seasons for tourists, like the Spring or Summer.
Also, make sure you finish the day off with a pint of Guinness!
Directions on how to get there: Find a tourist agency in Galway and look for a package deal on getting to the Aran Island Ferries. This service operates a year round service, but offer limited ferry rides, so do get there early. All the ferries are passenger only, thus, no car ferries are available. Make sure you set a full day to visit the Aran Islands, and please let me know what you thought of the islands if you do plan to visit 🙂
Check out my journey in Galway, Ireland
Check out my journey at The Giant Causeway, Ireland
Check out my journey in Derry, Northern Ireland
Check out my journey in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Check out my journey in Dublin, Ireland